The arrest of former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is a welcome development. Although she is clearly getting preferential treatment with her detention in one of the most luxurious and best hospitals in the country the St. Luke’s Medical Center, justice is finally catching up with her.
The filing of an electoral sabotage case against Arroyo is long overdue, and so do the filing of other cases. The Aquino administration assured the public that more cases, especially plunder and corruption, would be filed in the coming days. It is with a sense of relief that, finally, the Aquino administration is taking the filing of cases against Arroyo seriously. And it took a planned travel abroad by the former president that forced the hand of the Aquino administration to finally file the cases.
However, what appears to be conspicuously absent is the filing of cases against Arroyo for the numerous killings of activists and journalists, the enforced disappearances, and other human rights violations. The relatives of the victims of the Ampatuan massacre took it upon themselves to file a civil suit against Arroyo on the basis of command responsibility since it appears that the Aquino administration would not include this in the cases it would file against her. To think, the prosecution of the perpetrators and all those responsible for the killings, enforced disappearances, and other human rights violations is more important now to break the prevailing impunity.
If we are to believe the Aquino administration, corruption in government has been checked – although signs of its continuity do appear with the obvious favoring by Aquino of certain Cabinet officials – but the killings and other human rights violations continue with impunity. And this should be addressed now.
Also, while efforts to bring the Arroyos before the bar of justice continue, this does not exempt the Aquino administration from the need to put a stop to the continuing violations and injustices happening under its watch. Holding the Arroyos accountable for their crimes against the people would amount to nothing if the impunity in killings of activists and journalists, enforced disappearances, and other human rights violations would continue under the current administration; if the same lack of transparency, patronage politics and warlordism would prevail; if poverty and inequities, landlessness, hunger and immiseration, oppression and exploitation continue to characterize the lives of majority of the Filipino people; and if the country continues to sink in the quagmire of backwardness and crisis, dependence and environmental degradation.
Justice demands nothing less. If this would be the case, running after Arroyo would only be for show because nothing much would change.